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Through The Wire - Week 5
10/6/09 Users...
Check out the most popular waiver wire pickups this week across thousands of MFL leagues. Also, quickly see who's available on your waiver wire this week by using the MFL Power feature at FF Today. Just input your league's 5-digit ID number away you go!
Targeting weekly waiver picks is a completely subjective business, but this column hopes to point out some obvious and not-so-obvious selections to help your team from week to week while you strive to collect fantasy wins, reach your league playoffs, and win the elusive title that your friends say is out of your grasp. While I’m a big proponent of making trades to bolster your roster, the waiver wire can be an almost limitless resource when it comes to discovering fantasy value in strange places. Each week, I’ll target both offensive and defensive players — sometimes breakout stars that eluded your team’s draft — as well as players who can help your squad that may still be lurking in deeper leagues.

Off the Top - Includes my premier recommendations — sometimes players available either only in more shallow leagues, and occasionally guys more readily available who’ve been thrust into the fantasy spotlight.

Digging Deeper - Covers the next tier of quality waiver wire specimens, usually players available in a majority of online leagues.

Scouring the Barrel - Chronicles the deepest of fantasy adds — and sometimes highlights players being tacked onto fantasy squads who I don’t have much confidence in.

Each week, I’ll also provide a brief update on the 30-40 players I covered the previous week. It’s the best one-stop waiver-wire column available on the Internet, and it’s only available here at

Feedback is always welcome, appreciated and encouraged. I’ll get to as many e-mails as I can.

Note: Each player’s next four matchups are listed in parentheses ()

With many folks dealing with big-time bye week issues, Week Five is a crucial moment—opening a pivotal stretch that can make or break playoff hopes. I’m getting you the info you need to thrash through the waiver wire crops—separating the fantasy wheat from the chaff.


Off The Top

Matt Hasselbeck, SEA (JAC, ARI, BYE, @DAL) – If he’s not ready to return, Seneca Wallace could continue to flourish. But with home games versus Jacksonville and Arizona scheduled the next two weeks, Hasselbeck could make a solid bye-week fill-in (QBs with Week Five byes include Jay Cutler, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers; QBs with byes in Week Six include Tony Romo and Peyton Manning). He may or may not practice Wednesday, when we’ll have a better idea of his status for Sunday.

Jason Campbell, WAS (@CAR, KC, PHI, BYE) – Like the Seahawks QB he’s got a couple nice matchups the next two weeks and could post QB1 numbers. After that, things get a little dicey, so get on board now before his ship sails.

Digging Deeper

Kyle Orton, DEN (NE, @SD, BYE, @BAL) – The upcoming schedule’s a bit oppressive and the prospects of him putting up Jay Cutler-type numbers aren’t great, but Orton has a good line and shows the ability to make the necessary throws. His late-game heroics against the Cowboys on Sunday displayed an emerging rapport with the much-maligned Brandon Marshall, so he should improve his numbers regardless of the matchups.

Matt Cassel, KC (DAL, @WAS, SD, BYE) – If the Chiefs run into more early deficits and his receivers get healthy, Cassel could have big second-half value. He’s out there in a bunch of leagues, but could also be an interesting cog in multi-player deals. In one league I just moved my backup QB (Ben Roethlisberger) and Willie Parker for Cassel and Steven Jackson. You could do something similar if you’re looking for a position upgrade.

Scouring The Barrel

Matthew Stafford, DET (PIT, @GB, BYE, STL) – He’s currently listed as day-to-day with a knee injury (could be dislocated—no official word yet), and if he doesn’t play this week, he’ll be replaced by Daunte Culpepper. Regardless of how that pans out, Stafford needs to cut down on his turnovers, but I still expect a solid second half from the rookie. Once he makes a few adjustments, he could be a quality fantasy backup. If Carson Palmer, Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger is your QB1, you might consider Stafford versus the Rams for your Week 8 bye if all the big names are off the table.

Derek Anderson, CLE (@BUF, @PIT, GB, @CHI) – Since Anderson took his team within a score of its first 2009 win, he’s likely earned the starting job for a while. The emergence of Mohamed Massaquoi to go along with the presence of a few capable receivers could mean interesting things during late-game deficits. I’m not exacty bullish, but he could have some value given the right matchup.


David Garrard, JAC (@SEA, STL, BYE, @TEN) – Garrard was the top-scoring fantasy QB last week. Since a guy must be available in a significant percentage of leagues to be targeted in this column, this might be the first time in its history that I pegged the No. 1 QB with my first recommendation.

Shaun Hill, SF (ATL, BYE, @HOU, @IND) – Just 152 passing yards, but two TD passes made him a viable start.

Kyle Boller, STL (MIN, @JAC, IND, @DET) – Boller was about as useless as possible for a fantasy QB, although he only turned the ball over twice. That’s better than can be said for rookie Mark Sanchez, who had three INTs and a lost fumble.

Chad Henne, MIA (NYJ, BYE, NO, @NYJ) – Henne’s 115 passing yards and a TD weren’t much, but he led his team to a big win over Buffalo.

Josh Johnson, TB (@PHI, CAR, NE, BYE) – 13-for-22 for only 106 passing yards and a TD, but he had 41 rushing yards on seven carries.

Pat White, MIA (NYJ, BYE, NO, @NYJ) – White had one carry for -1 yard. Since the Fins looked good with Henne at the helm, the former Mountaineer has little fantasy relevance heading into Week 5.

Running Backs

Off The Top

Rashard Mendenhall, PIT (@DET, CLE, MIN, BYE) – Mendenhall took a big step in shedding his “bust” reputation Sunday night with a huge two-TD, 191-total-yard performance against the Chargers. He should be the No. 1 player off the wire this week in 12-team redraft formats, where he’ll likely be available.

LeSean McCoy, PHI (TB, @OAK, @WAS, NYG) – The Eagles get Tampa Bay at home this week and should have both Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook back in the starting lineup — but that doesn’t mean McCoy doesn’t have value. Look for a 2-1 touches split for B-West and McCoy, with the rookie getting plenty of chances to drive a series or two.

Digging Deeper

Chester Taylor, MIN (@STL, BAL, @PIT, @GB) – I really like Taylor’s matchup in St. Louis this week, as Adrian Peterson could yield a slew of second-half carries to the veteran back if the Vikings take a big lead. And remember — Taylor’s got great value as a FLEX in PPR leagues given his versatility on third down.

Sammy Morris, NE (@DEN, TEN, @TB, BYE) – Morris is about a full tier under Taylor in PPR value, but could see his touches increase during the next few weeks as the Patriots continue to throw the ball against some weak pass defenses.

Scouring The Barrel

Mewelde Moore, PIT (@DET, CLE, MIN, BYE) – Although he only had two carries for a couple yards, Moore surprised with three catches for 31 yards and a touchdown, as well as a six-yard touchdown pass to Heath Miller during the Steelers’ Week Four win. He should be owned in deeper leagues and considered for his upside when Willie Parker sits out due to injury.

Justin Forsett, SEA (JAC, ARI, BYE, @DAL) – Forsett saw most of the touches down the stretch during the Seahawks’ Week Four loss to the Colts. While Julius Jones remains Seattle’s clear No. 1 choice to run the ball, you must consider Forsett as a PPR value-add in deeper leagues.


Glen Coffee, SF (ATL, BYE, @HOU, @IND) – He had 24 carries for 74 yards and 4/32/0 receiving in the 35-0 beatdown of the Rams—but didn’t reach the end zone. If Frank Gore is still out, consider Coffee a decent RB2 or solid FLEX play against the Falcons, who don’t have a great run defense.

Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG (OAK, @NO, ARI, @PHI) – Bradshaw suited up Sunday and tallied 64 yards on just 12 carries, bringing his 2009 YPC to 5.64, fifth in the NFL among RBs with at least 40 carries. No rushing TDs yet this season, though.

Fred Taylor, NE (@DEN, TEN, @TB, BYE) – He’s still tops among NE backs for carries with 45, but had a dull afternoon versus the Ravens defense (seven carries, 25 yards).

Ricky Williams, MIA (NYJ, BYE, NO, @NYJ) – Ricky got it done once again on Sunday, finishing with 85 yards and a score on 16 carries. He’s a quality RB3 at this point with upside to reach RB2 status if he remains consistent.

Maurice Morris, DET (PIT, @GB, BYE, STL) – Kevin Smith was OK to play so Morris just backed him up.

Jerome Harrison, CLE (@BUF, @PIT, GB, @CHI) – Harrison had a solid day even though he fumbled and didn’t reach the end zone: 152 total yards and five catches.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Off The Top

WR Mohamed Massaquoi, CLE (@BUF, @PIT, GB, @CHI) – Massaquoi was targeted 13 times by Derek Anderson in Week Four. The only guy targeted more on Sunday was the Giants’ Steve Smith, who saw 16 targets from Eli Manning. He’ll be a hot waiver wire pickup this week, and rightfully so. Massaquoi was signed in late July and with Anderson’s vertical passing game, could provide a sorely needed deep threat for the Browns’ veteran QB.

WR Hakeem Nicks, NYG (OAK, @NO, ARI, @PHI) – He’s available on a bunch of waiver wires because of his injury and the emergence of Steve Smith as Eli Manning’s go-to guy in recent weeks. I’m surprised he was back in uniform last week, and the 54-yard TD catch was a nice sign he’ll be involved when healthy.

Digging Deeper

WR Kenny Britt, TEN (IND, @NE, BYE, JAC) – The next few weeks could present a similar predicament to the one Tennessee found themselves in during the Jacksonville tilt, where the Titans fell behind and needed to throw the ball downfield. Britt and fellow wideout Nate Washington could both make a splash in the next few games.

TE Heath Miller, PIT (@DET, CLE, MIN, BYE) – Miller caught eight balls for 70 yards and two TD passes on Sunday night and was targeted eight times. He’s never been a consistent week-to-week fantasy performer, but with Antonio Gates, Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey on their byes this week, he’ll make a solid fill-in with major upside.

TE Marcedes Lewis, JAC (@SEA, STL, BYE, @TEN) – Again, he’s not a guy you want to start every week, but he could be a popular pickup this week with a few big-name TE1s on bye.

Scouring The Barrel

TE Sean Ryan, KC (DAL, @WAS, SD, BYE) – He had seven targets on Sunday against the Giants and finished with 5/58/1 receiving, but Ryan is not a guy to get too excited about. The young journeyman TE (on his fourth team in four years) only had six catches for 39 yards in his first three games.

WR Austin Collie, IND (TEN, BYE, @STL, SF) – When Anthony Gonzalez returns, his value will be minimal, but until then, he could have some big games as a key cog in Manning’s attack.


WR Kevin Walter HOU (@ARI, @CIN, SF, @BUF) – Both Walter (1/41/0) and Andre Johnson (2/66/0) had relatively quiet games, but Walter only had three balls thrown his way to Johnson’s eight. There will be more targets and better numbers in the coming weeks.

WR Nate Burleson SEA (JAC, ARI, BYE, @DAL) – Burleson’s worst game of the season so far, he had single-digit targets (eight) for the first time in four games and caught 4/31/0. He remains a solid WR3 with upside.

WR Pierre Garçon, IND (@TEN, BYE, @STL, SF) – Garçon had 3/71/0 and was targeted four times by Manning. He’s a solid week-to-week plat at WR3 until Gonzalez returns for his big-play ability in the vaunted Indy offense.

TE Vernon Davis, SF (ATL, BYE, @HOU, @IND) – Davis scored again this week among his three catches for 43 yards. He’s quickly rising to TE1 status.

WR Mike Wallace, PIT (@DET, CLE, MIN, BYE) – 2/47/0 shows and three targets — he’s not a possession receiver but could have a few big weeks if the run’s not working for Pittsburgh.

WR Andre Caldwell, CIN (@BAL, HOU, CHI, BYE) – He posted 2/26/0 in Week Four versus the Browns. Chad Ochocinco put up a similar line for the Bengals but got the looks inside the red zone and had two scores.


Off The Top

LB David Harris, NYJ (@MIA, BUF, @OAK, MIA) – Harris is a stud who’s still available in a small chunk of leagues that play only a few IDP positions. He’s primed for a huge week against the Dolphins, so don’t hesitate with a plug-n-play here. Seriously—he could easily have 10-15 tackles this week in Miami.

DL Aaron Schobel, BUF (CLE, @NYJ, @CAR, HOU) – Also available in a bunch of IDP formats, Schobel is a big play DL who’s been among the best in the league. The Browns give up big points to opposing lineman, so I’m recommending you give him a shot if he’s still out there.

DL John Abraham, ATL (@SF, CHI, @DAL, @NO) – I know—he’s another guy who’s nearly universally owned in relatively deep leagues—but he may have been dropped in shallow leagues where you can’t afford to hold onto extra DL on their bye weeks. He’s got an excellent matchup in San Fran, where Hill’s lineman can be beaten for sacks—and that’s where Abraham can post bug numbers.

Digging Deeper

LB Chad Greenway, MIN (@STL, BAL, @PIT, @GB) – Greenway, a gamer who played well Monday night, should be all over the field (in coverage and on occasional strong-side run and pass blitzes) against the Rams. Give him a shot if the upper tier of LBs is gone in your league.

DB Dunta Robinson, HOU (@ARI, @CIN, SF, @BUF) – Robinson may not be the model of good behavior and tact, but he’s a veteran DB with a nose for the ball and good tackling ability. Look for the Cards to target their talented wideouts a ton and give Robinson frequent opportunities to make plays.

LB Kamerion Wimbley, CLE (@BUF, @PIT, GB, @CHI) – I love Wimbley’s upside this week against a weak Bills’ line and the offense’s propensity to dump the ball under to Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch. He’s steadily improving his game, is the clear pass-rush specialist in the LB corps, and could have a big day in Buffalo.

Scouring The Barrel

LB Jarret Johnson, BAL (CIN, @MIN, BYE, DEN) – He’s coming into his own on this Ravens defense and should be able to work with Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs to blow up the Cincinnati line this week. The veteran LB from Alabama also had a solid outing in Week Four versus the Pats.

DB Reed Doughty, WAS (@CAR, KC, PHI, BYE) – He won the starting job over second-year man Chris Horton—who only started last season after Doughty got injured but had a great rookie campaign and won the 2009 job in early summer. Doughty was more effective in the first four weeks and has already racked up 24 total tackles (16 solos in his last two games). He’s a hot hand in the Washington secondary right now.


LB Justin Durant, JAC (@SEA, STL, BYE, @TEN) – Six solos, one assist on Sunday versus the Titans. He’s now got 29 solos on the year, good for a three way tie for third in the NFL (with IDP studs Patrick Willis and Curtis Lofton — although Lofton’s only played three games).

DL Shaun Rogers, CLE (@BUF, @PIT, GB, @CHI) – One solo, one assist. The Bengals O-line did a great job keeping him out of the backfield. Unbelievable, really. I expect him to bounce back with some major disruption versus the Bills.

LB Marcus Buggs, BUF (CLE, @NYJ, @CAR, HOU) – Buggs had nine solo tackles last week against the Fins. Now that’s what I call a solid spot-waiver-wire addition.

DB Roman Harper, NO (BYE, NYG, @MIA, ATL) – Did I say “Harper?” Add an “S” to the start of Harper’s name and you would have had the IDP stud of Week Four.

LB David Hawthorne, SEA (JAC, ARI, BYE, @DAL) – Did not play Week 4 — Lofa Tatupu was back at MLB for the Seahawks.

DL Chris Long, STL (MIN, @JAC, IND, @DET) – Long got shut out last week against Joe Staley, one of the worst left tackles in football. I’m cutting bait on Long until further notice.